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Southgate uses Bobby Charlton footage to inspire England

Gareth Southgate has used clips of Bobby Charlton to inspire his England players before they pay tribute to the World Cup winner in Friday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Malta.

Former Manchester United and England star Charlton died aged 86 on October 21.

Southgate was at Charlton’s funeral at Manchester Cathedral on Monday and further tributes will be paid to one of England’s greatest ever players when Malta visit Wembley.

It will be England’s first match since Charlton’s death and a crowd mosaic is planned, along with a video celebrating the 1966 World Cup winner’s life and a period of applause.

England’s players will wear black armbands in memory of a man whose importance to the sport was underlined to them by Southgate’s video montage at their training camp this week.

“A big part of what we’ve wanted to do with our players is to talk about our identity as a team,” Southgate told reporters on Thursday.

“Part of that is knowing the history of our team and having an understanding of how special some of the players that have been England internationals before are.

“We’ve had the chance to do that this week. We showed some footage of Sir Bobby to the players, the first day we arrived.

“If you can win something with your international team, it’s probably bigger than anything else you’re going to experience.

“So, there were lots of messages within that for all of the players but, most importantly, an incredible player, an incredible man.”

Southgate has underlined the history and importance of representing England throughout his reign, with their training pitch at St George’s Park renamed in Charlton’s honour in 2017.

He has overseen an impressive turnaround in England’s performances since being hired, initially on a temporary basis, in October 2016.

Southgate’s first match was a home qualifier against Malta and they are back at Wembley for the first time since then, with England now installed among the favourites to win Euro 2024.

England, who reached the European Championship final in 2021, have secured qualification with two games to spare from a group featuring Italy and Ukraine.

Their last home game this year is not a dead rubber because Southgate’s men could seal their place among the top seeds by beating Malta and then North Macedonia next week.

Even if England achieve that goal, Southgate knows he will never be far away from criticism until he ends his country’s wait for a first major men’s trophy since Charlton and company in 1966.

“Well, the reality of that is however well we play tomorrow people will just say it’s a lower ranked opponent, so it’ll be irrelevant,” he said.

“People are going to have opinions. I’m probably tired of trying to fight that.

“In the end, it will be what it is. So, I’ll just let our results and performances speak for themselves.

“You’re never going to please everybody, so the best way as a football manager is keep winning matches.”

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